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The title for this blog is taken from the twelfth chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon. Amulek and Alma were confronted by Zeezrom, who was a lawyer and “was the foremost to accuse Amulek and Alma, he being one of the most expert among them, having much business to do among the people.” (Alma 10:31) Zeezrom intended to catch the missionaries in their words but was stymied by the knowledge that Amulek and Alma had received of his intentions. When this became apparent, Zeezrom trembled and was apparently humbled enough to change the tone of his questions from accusation to a search for understanding. His question dealt with the resurrection of the dead.

In response to the question posed by Zeezrom, Alma stated the following found in the twelfth chapter:

9  And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

10  And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

11  And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

12  And Amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death, and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality, and being brought before the bar of God, to be judged according to our works.

13  Then if our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for then we shall be condemned. (Alma 12:9-13)

Before Alma was ready to answer the question regarding the resurrection, he first defined the importance and structure of the knowledge that was going to be discussed. We first learn that many have been given the opportunity to gain knowledge and wisdom from the Lord. The way that one receives this information is through the word of God – revelation. The mysteries of God are given to us “according to heed and diligence” that we demonstrate unto God.

There are those who, through pride or other impediments, “harden their hearts” toward this available information are not given the mysteries of God through revelation. I have come to believe that ‘hardening our hearts’ is a product of a misplaced desire to achieve salvation based on our own knowledge and understanding.

 On the other hand, those who exhibit of ‘soft’ heart, one that allows the words of God to penetrate, are given the opportunity to receive great knowledge, even to the point of receiving this knowledge in its fullness. There are other demonstrations of this idea in the scriptures. I find it of note that Nephi, in the first chapter and verse of the Book of Mormon, chose to reference this idea with these words: …having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God.., (1 Nephi 1:1. Nephi received visions and revelation to the extent of seeing the entire history of the world. He is not the only one who was able to receive this glorious revelation. 

In the seventy-sixth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord states:

5  For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.

6  Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.

7  And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom. (D&C 76:5-7)

While these citations contain sufficient material for a wide variety of discussions, I want to simply point to the multiple references that encourage, no, command us to individually and collectively seek the mysteries of God. You and I are encouraged and should be compelled by our desire to serve God in righteousness, to seek the knowledge He is willing to share with us.

But what of those who “harden” their hearts? The description found in Alma tells us that they are ‘given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning His mysteries.’ As I pondered this phrase, I came to understand that two elements are described. The first indicates that continuing revelation will not happen.  There will be no pronouncements of “Thus sayeth the Lord” by those who are not seeking the mysteries of God. While the mantra may continue that there are prophets, seers, and revelators upon the earth, there is no meat delivered in terms of revelation. Those who harden their hearts will not be privy to the revelation of God.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; (Alma 12:11)

Secondly, the past revelations will be lost in terms of understanding. This verse suggests that there will be a, perhaps gradual, slide downward in terms of understanding revelation that was given in the past until nothing is understood regarding His mysteries – His word delivered by revelation.

Do we see evidence of the gradual loss of the knowledge of God that we have already received from Him? In my mind, there are a number of potential examples. You are certainly to accept or reject them as evidence that there is a chronic hardness of the heart among us individually and collectively.

 Miracles

After Jesus Christ was resurrected, He appeared to His disciples as described in Mark:

14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

15  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

16  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

17  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

18  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:14-18)

First, I find it interesting that the apostles of the Lord were chastised because of the hardness of their hearts. More importantly, they, the twelve, were to take the message of the gospel to the world. They were to do this accompanied by the signs that they were doing this in His name.  Shortly thereafter, as described in Acts, chapter three, Peter healed a man lame since birth.

6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

7  And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

8  And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
(Acts 3:6-8)

This same behavior was exhibited by the disciples of Christ in the Book of Mormon:

5  And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus. (4 Nephi 1:5)

Why don’t we see the apostles of the Lord demonstrating miracles in the name of the Lord? Do they not carry the same pronouncement as the apostles of Christ in Jerusalem and among the Nephites?

Today, miracles have been defined around many things that I would consider as short of the description of miracles found in the scriptures. Is it a miracle when a change in the age requirement boosts the missionary ranks to over 75,000? Can the church efforts in genealogy be considered miraculous? I suggest you ponder these questions in your heart. What should be considered a miracle? What have we lost by redefining what ‘miracle’ mean among the body of believers?

Law of Consecration

The Law of Consecration is laid out in the forty-second section of the Doctrine and Covenants (see D&C 42:30-39).

31  And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and his counselors, two of the elders, or high priests, such as he shall appoint or has appointed and set apart for that purpose. (D&C 42:31)

The members were instructed to consecrate their property to the church and then receive an inheritance from which they were to extract their living. This commandment of the Lord also has roots back into the meridian of time. Following the Savior’s death and resurrection, we find his followers practicing a similar way of life:

42  And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43  And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

44  And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

45  And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

46  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (Acts 2:42-46)

Note that there is another reference to the signs or miracles done by the apostles. The followers of Christ lived as one, their possessions were pooled together for the benefit of all. The same appears to be the case for the Nephites after the visit by the Savior:

3  And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. (4 Nephi 1:3)

If we were indeed given revelation as to how the followers of Christ were to conduct their daily lives, why do we seem to be satisfied today with the temporal law of tithing? Have we lost our collective memory of the revelation given by God?

Here is how President Eyring described the method by which the followers of Christ have been directed to care for one another:

His way of helping has at times been called living the law of consecration. In another period His way was called the united order. In our time it is called the Church welfare program. His way of helping has at times been called living the law of consecration. In another period His way was called the united order. In our time it is called the Church welfare program. (2011 April General Conference Saturday morning session)

 Does the church welfare program equate to the law of consecration? Or is it possibly an example of how the word, the purpose of the original revelation, has been taken from us due to our hard hearts?

Gathering to Zion

I have a friend who ended every communication with the phrase, “next year in Zion.’ There was a time in this church when people still talked of preparing to return to Missouri. There was a time when the saints were told to gather that they could be ‘one.’ Speaking to the apostles of the restoration, the Lord said:

7  And ye shall go forth baptizing with water, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

8  And from this place ye shall go forth into the regions westward; and inasmuch as ye shall find them that will receive you ye shall build up my church in every region—

9  Until the time shall come when it shall be revealed unto you from on high, when the city of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared, that ye may be gathered in one, that ye may be my people and I will be your God. (D&C 42:7-9)

We now know where the Lord originally intended to have His Saints gathered. We also know that the people who attempted to establish Zion were thwarted by their own actions.

9  Therefore, in consequence of the transgressions of my people, it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion—

10  That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.

11  And this cannot be brought to pass until mine elders are endowed with power from on high.

12  For behold, I have prepared a great endowment and blessing to be poured out upon them, inasmuch as they are faithful and continue in humility before me.

13  Therefore it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season, for the redemption of Zion. (D&C 105:9-13)

How long is a little season? What are the things that we, collectively and individually, must learn to be better prepared to establish Zion, the pure in heart? Will it still happen in Jackson County, Missouri or will there be some other place for those who are truly converted to collect?

In the Sunday School lesson conducted about one year ago, the teacher made it clear that we are to stay where we are at; that we are no longer required to gather. I cannot find any commandment to that effect. There was no mention made that we are to be preparing for the gathering? Is this yet another example of the revelation, the word, that has been taken from us?

The Mysteries of God

So this brings me back to the start of this blog entry. As members, we are told today that we are not to seek after the mysteries of God. We are told that we place our membership in jeopardy if we stray outside of the correlated church. We have recent examples of people who have been excised from the fabric of the corporate church because they dared to share their concerns with others. We find that they were not charged with apostasy against the gospel but that they were excommunicated because they spoke words that were at odds with the current version of the church doctrine.  How do the chains of hell feel? There are surely people around you that have no desire to seek after the mysteries. They are fully committed to following man rather than God.

In closing, my plea is for us all to ‘come unto Christ.’ Seek to prepare ourselves for the commandments that we have received. Prepare our hearts for the word that the Spirit will deliver.

What think ye?

15 Responses to “The Lesser Portion of the Word”

  • wonderdog:

    “In the Sunday School lesson conducted about one year ago, the teacher made it clear that we are to stay where we are at; that we are no longer required to gather. I cannot find any commandment to that effect.”

    I remember a talk by President Kimball instructing the saints to stay in their home countries and to build up Zion there.

    • Spektator:

      Wonderdog,
      The change in practice relative to staying in their own locale to build up the church occurred long before President Kimball. Given the clarity of the call to gather found in the scriptures, don’t you think a revelation noting that the Saints were no longer called to gather in Zion would be appropriate?

      • Rob:

        My research led me to a statement made by Bruce R. McConkie at a regional conference. Not a revelation, not a signed policy, not issued by the president of the church, but from a junior apostle at a regional conference. It seems they found a convenient excuse for why they had discontinued gathering. I think the first time it was discontinued was when Brigham Young decided he didn’t want Hawaiians to emigrate to Utah. There is a monument about that in the Polynesian Cultural Center.

  • George:

    I read somewhere that “mysteries” in this sense refers specifically to ordinances, which if true gives an interesting meaning to the idea of having some we need to seek out specifically, and which are hidden from most people. I’m not sure the obvious answer that “mysteries” = “temple ordinances such as we know them” entirely suffices.

    In yesterday’s Elders Quorum we talked about Helaman’s 2000 young soldiers, and it was proposed that Helaman didn’t want the Ammonite parents to take up arms because they might thereby re-acquire the taste for blood that had been such a part of their lives before their repentance. This theme continued all through the discussion of a talk from General Conference which was interpreted as saying we needed to build bulwarks around our weaknesses, avoiding the appearance of evil, and such like, to keep us from falling into traps based on our weakness. Few seemed to care that the scriptures say nothing of the sort; they actually say 1) Helaman simply didn’t want the Ammonites to break their covenants, and 2) the book of Ether makes clear the proper solution to weakness is humility and faith whereby weaknesses are made strengths.

    • Spektator:

      George,
      I can share with you what I have found in studying the scriptures relative to the mysteries of God. First, as I allude to in the post in writing about D&C, section 76, the Lord indicates that He shared the mysteries of His kingdom with Joseph and Sidney. Here is what one finds in D&C 76:114:

      “But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion”

      Another reference to the mysteries is found in Alma 40 where Alma states the following in verse 3:

      “Now, I unfold unto you a mystery; nevertheless, there are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself. But I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know—that is concerning the resurrection.
      Alma 40:3

      This reference lines up with my perspective of Alma, chapter 11. I believe Alma was allowed to share this ‘mystery’ with the readers of the Book. Do these two examples constitute a class of the mysteries? I am reasonably comfortable with that approach.

      Your Sunday School sounds like it would be a real test of my patience…

      Spek

      • George:

        It can well be a test of mine. On the other hand, these people are more willing to give a person the shirt off their back than any other ward I’ve lived in, so there’s that…

  • Good Will:

    I forwarded this (Spektator’s) post (“The Lesser Portion of the Word”) to my bishop. (I’m inclined to “return and report” what I learn and discover with those I love.) I’ve recommended to him and other “thoughtful” students of LDS History and the Book of Mormon in my ward Daymon Smith’s “A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon”, a few posts from Rock Waterman’s blog “Pure Mormonism” and various and sundry other expositions inspired by Denver Snuffer.

    The effect has been instantaneous recoil. The “stalwart” members of my ward immediately shunned me. My bishop called me into his office Sunday and said I was “headed for apostasy”, but let me go with a warning if I would keep my views “quiet” in Church. I agreed, but this wasn’t good enough for him. After “thoughtful and prayerful” consideration, he emailed me last night, requesting another interview today. Apparently he is marching down the “steps”: ascertain what I think; then, if I don’t “fall in line”, censor me with informal probation (denial of temple recommend, take away the sacrament, prohibit participation in Church, etc.).

    Lovely.

    I will NOT be able to put the genie back into the bottle. During our long discussion, there were several moments when the bishop’s mouth was stopped. He is usually loquacious, with a ready answer for EVERYTHING — usually before one finishes speaking to him (if he considers you his “subordinate”). But this time, he had no answer — the facts were undeniable.

    Facts, however, only gave him momentary pause.

    With the creation of sufficient epicycles and rationalizations — the most important (and non-scriptural) being “follow the prophet” and “the Brethren cannot lead you astray” no matter what — NOTHING, no number of changed or abandoned doctrines, historical facts, contradicting testimonies by General Authorities (including “prophets”), or articles of evidence (or lack thereof) of any kind would dissuade my bishop from remaining “true and faithful” to the “order” and orthodoxy the Church hierarchy has imposed. EVERYTHING THEY DO AND SAY IS RIGHT. (Even if it isn’t.)

    I’m a science teacher. And I’m not even complaining (or disbelieving) in the Book of Abraham, DNA from the Book of Mormon, the “flip-flop” on polygamy, polyandry, etc. I’ve got no “bones” to pick. I merely want THE TRUTH.

    But the bishop popped out his manual and read me this: “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?” I had noted that the language had (somewhat recently) changed. Before it said “support…or sympathize with…”. Now it was apparently forbidden to even “agree with” anyone whose “teachings or practices” the Church does not now “accept”! Holy Galileo, Batman!

    It doesn’t matter to anyone (apparently) that yesterday’s LDS “heretic” is today’s “true and faithful” and vice versa.

    There is NO CORRECTION MECHANISM built into this regime, no allowance for opposing points of view or disagreements regarding interpretations of history or facts. Like any dictatorship, if the head becomes corrupt (or merely incorrect), the whole collective marches off the cliff together! And “insubordinates” are assimilated or eliminated.

    What will I do? My wife, my seven children, we are — or at least we thought we were — faithful, temple-going, dyed-in-the-wool Latter-day Saints.

    Now we are the Church’s enemy?

    • Spektator:

      A few years ago, when I was second counselor in the bishopric, our ward participated in a youth conference. Things went fine until the last day when word got back to the adult leadership that several of the youth snuck out the night before and violated the curfew. The first counselor decided that these young people needed to be punished immediately for the violation of the rules. He then proceeded to pull them out of the final event of the youth conference – the testimony meeting.

      To this day I regret not standing up to the action taken against these kids. One of the boys involved was inactive and never came to another event.

      Your bishop is using the same tactic of punishing you by restricting your ‘access’ to spiritual opportunities. In my opinion, he should be doing the exact opposite. He should be encouraging you to fast, pray and attend the temple. The sort of tyranny that you have been subjected to does not belong in the kingdom of God.

      Any man holding a position in the church should follow the guidance found in the Book of Mormon relative to a priesthood assignment. He should read 3 Nephi, chapter 12. In that chapter, the disciples of Christ were described in this manner: “I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants;”
      3 Nephi 12:1

      I believe that any position held in the church should receive the same guidance – to be a servant and a minister to those covered by the calling.

      Now a familiar verse that is appropriate for this discussion.

      “…the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

      That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”
      D&C 121:36-37

      I would suggest that the actions taken against you represent unrighteous dominion…
      Your mileage may vary.

      Spek

    • anonymous for this--:

      I am really sorry, Good Will.

      I am beginning to see that our family has been ‘blessed’ to be treated poorly enough in our ward that we wouldn’t even begin to trust speaking to fellow ward members about such things.
      What a blessing, eh?
      I am sad for you, truly.
      I remember when that kind of trust/love existed for us; it no longer does, though we remain ‘in’–
      but we are very silent now. We don’t talk to anyone about the things we study.
      I believe that those who want Zion have been driven underground. Some come up to fight openly, and that is their choice, of course. Others of us have already felt the heavy hand of persecution for other things (handicapped family members, financial difficulties, strange health problems)–

      and have, perhaps, been protected because of that. The church has not been ‘safe’ for us for many years.

      I will mourn with you.

      I have no advice, however.

      My father was a science teacher; he was also a truth seeker, but he was very careful in church; maybe that is where I learned.

  • Adam:

    Great post Spek.

    We will definitely be gathering again. Those that will hearken to the voice of the Shepherd.

    Yes, the scriptures are very clear that we must seek the mysteries. If we don’t seek the mysteries we are taken captive by the devil. The very fact that we have been discouraged to seek the mysteries is a great evidence of how corrupt and false this religion has become. It is indeed in Satan’s power. Satan is blinding the minds and hardening the hearts of the people. But this has always been the case before the coming of Christ

    Heleman 16
    22 And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good and against that which should come.

    Notice hardening their hears against that which would come. The second coming of Christ is going to be nothing like the precepts of men that have been taught. It’s all in the scriptures and God will reveal all these mysteries to all humble seekers.

  • JR:

    So now it has become apostasy to agree with ideas not acceptable to The Church, Inc, even if those ideas are privately held and not shared with others?
    The Spirit warned me several months ago that I must hasten my completion of temple work for my “roots” (ancestors) because at my next TR interview (this month) I would lose my TR over question #7.
    Questions #7 reads, “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the church of JESUS CHRIST of latter-day saints?” (Emphasis mine).
    I was warned by the Spirit that I was not to attempt to deceive, avoid, lie in answer to that question.
    Bless you Brother Good Will. Hope to see you on the other side of this darkness that is descending on the world.
    JR

    • John:

      Well, even though this was posted a while ago, I just had my TR interview and said “yea, I agree with individuals whose teachings oppose those accepted by the church” — Try Joseph Smith on for size. – search the mysteries, calling and election, seeing the face of Jesus while yet in this life, the nature of Godhead (lectures on faith) etc. Not knowing what to say, he (bishopric counselor) laughed it off and went on.

      Interestingly I know what they are actually asking. In the end the real question is “do you consider yourself worthy to enter the temple? — more than ever before.

      Cheers to all and may God bless you in your search.

    • Spektator:

      John,
      I am sure you made the counselor nervous, but there may come a time when he will not be able to laugh it off. I have come to believe that your last question should be the only question asked. I do not believe that the Lord looks kindly at the current ‘requirements’ placed on individuals to enter the temple, including the payment of tithing. That smacks of compulsion to me.

  • Adam:

    Good will,

    Ask your bishop if he believes in the articles of faith. I’m sure his response will be yes. Then read the eleventh article of faith:

    11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    Doesn’t this clearly state our belief that we can worship God the way we see fit?
    Any religion that becomes the thought police is a religion that is now under the influence of the adversary.

  • Good Will:

    Frankly, that’s not going to “fly” with them.

    Only “orthodox” thought and worship are allowed. Last year, I substituted in Primary. I led the kids in singing “Follow the Prophet”. I said to them, “Remember whom we really follow….” They gave me blank stares. “Who is the head of this Church?”, I asked. “Thomas S. Monson!” they shouted. “No, it’s Jesus Christ. We follow the Savior Jesus Christ. We follow the prophet as long as he follows the Savior. Maybe we should sing “Follow the Savior, follow the Savior” from now on!” I think I actually got them to sing a few bars of that!

    You would have thought I were teaching blasphemy! After that, a counselor in the bishopric followed me EVERYWHERE, sat beside me in every classroom meeting, and monitored my every comment. When I taught the kids later that same day that we should look forward to receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost after our baptism in water, the bishop said “Why would you want to confuse them with that? Stick to the milk!”

    I was never allowed to teach in Primary, Sunday School or Priesthood again. In fact, the bishop asked me to just keep quiet, keep my “testimony” to myself, and sit in the back of the chapel with my family as much as possible (so as not to disturb anyone else).

    It’s a loving, friendly ward where everyone feels the Spirit. Obviously.

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